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Carroll County remains among best in Maryland for high school graduation rates

Cecelia Boynton looks on during Manchester Valley High School's graduation ceremony at McDaniel College in June 2018.
Cecelia Boynton looks on during Manchester Valley High School's graduation ceremony at McDaniel College in June 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Carroll County Public Schools maintained one of the highest graduation rates in the state last year, despite a small slippage of the overall state average.

The 2018 graduation rate for CCPS stayed greater than 95 percent, the same as the previous year, according to data released from the Maryland State Department of Education. Queen Anne’s County was the only other jurisdiction with a rate of 95 percent or higher.

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The overall dropout rate for CCPS was less than 3 percent.

In Maryland, 87.12 percent of students in the Class of 2018 graduated within four years after beginning high school — compared with 87.67 percent for the Class of 2017.

Because of regulations designed to prevent the identification of individual students, the state will not release the exact percentage of graduates beyond the announced rate of more than 95 percent or less than 3 percent for dropouts.

Winters Mill High School saw an increase from 92.11 percent in 2017 to 94.49 percent in 2018. All other Carroll public high schools remained at 95 percent or higher from 2017 to 2018.

Kimberly Dolch, director of high schools for CCPS, attributes the strong numbers to teamwork between administrators, parents and communities working together to support students and educators.

There are different paths to graduation for different students, whether that includes career and technology education, dual enrollment at the community college, or in-school programs.

In addition to Carroll’s full-service high schools, the Carroll data includes students enrolled in The Gateway School and the Flexible Student Support program.

The Gateway School, an alternative school for students who need more individual attention, saw an increase from 47.22 percent in 2017 to 56.67 percent in 2018. Those in the Flexible Student Support program, which provides extra support for students who are at risk of dropping out, graduated in greater percentages as well, with 85.96 percent as compared to 83.67 in 2017.

The graduation rates are measured using a cohort system that tracks all children who enroll in public school from the point they enter in ninth grade to the time of graduation.

Within their own data, the school system breaks down students in different su-groups such as students who qualify for free and reduced lunch or those who are English language learners, Dolch said.

Although the numbers from MSDE reflect students who graduate with four years of high school, CCPS is dedicated to working with students who need summer classes or an extra year to get their diploma, she said.

“We don’t just give up on them,” she said.

The high schools meet the summer before classes start in the fall and try to identify students who might not have enough credits to graduate on the four-year schedule.

We make a pathway [and] talk to students realistically so there’s no surprises,” she said.

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The schools hope to instill the importance of work ethic and gaining a diploma.

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” she said.

The graduation and dropout data for every high school in Maryland can be found at http://reportcard.msde.maryland.gov under “Data Downloads.”

Other information is available through the MSDE’s Maryland Report Card system, which delivered its first report in December. Carroll high schools received ratings of mostly four and five stars out of five.

Graduation rates increased in several school districts across Central Maryland including Baltimore County, Harford County and Anne Arundel .

Howard County’s rate dipped modestly from 92.28 percent to 91.95 percent.

In Baltimore City Public Schools, graduation rates also rose, with 72.18 percent of students graduating in four years, an increase of about 1.5 percent.

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